Lt. Col. Ryan Rose, chief of the small launch and targets division of the Space and Missile Systems Center’s (SMC) launch enterprise, said the U.S. Space Force plans to assess and work with as many small launch providers as possible and determine how to procure services from such companies to meet future demand, SpaceNews reported Monday.
“Our customers are building more small sats,” Rose told the publication in an interview. “We’re trying to make sure we have contract vehicles available to satisfy those requirements. It’s hard to say how many providers we’ll need.”
The COVID-19 pandemic and technical challenges pushed back several small satellite launch missions to 2021 and those include launches by Space Vector, Rocket Lab and Virgin Orbit.
Rose said Rocket Lab’s Electron rocket for the Space Test Program STP-27RM mission is now projected to lift off by spring or summer of 2021 and the Air Force Research Laboratory’s (ARL) sounding rocket mission aboard a vehicle developed by Kratos and Space Vector is now expected to launch in the spring.
She added the first of two Virgin Orbit launches, STP-27VP, is now targeted for summer, while the STP-S28 mission is expected to take off later this year.